NEW YORK -- With Yankees star Derek Jeter battling injury across the diamond, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria spoke Friday about the respect he has for the New York shortstop, and how he's come to realize how difficult it can be to endure an entire season in good health.
Longoria played in just his 57th game of the season during a 6-4 win Friday. He was in Joe Maddon's lineup as designated hitter, as has been the case more than one-third of the time due to a bothersome hamstring injury. Jeter was also at designated hitter for the Yankees on Friday, for the second straight game, after aggravating a nagging bone bruise in his left ankle on Wednesday night.
"Obviously he's the ultimate pro," Longoria said of Jeter. "That's one of the reasons I think why so many people admire him, is his ability to really just put the team before himself. Just go out there and play every day, no complaints, nothing else said."
Jeter has played in at least 119 games every year since his first full-time season in New York in 1996.
"I try to model myself the same way," Longoria said. "We're at different points in our career. I wish I could play more games healthy in a year. I wish I could play the whole season."
Maddon called Longoria's situation a "'Godspell' moment" meaning that the team had to monitor the injury day by day, determining from there what kind of role Longoria could have on a daily basis. The third baseman said it's an issue that won't be fully healed until the offseason.
"It's probably gonna need rest," Longoria said. "That's something that I really haven't addressed. I just kind of show up and do what I can do. If I can do more that day, if I feel good that day, I try to push it. Just try to find that happy medium. It feels different every day."
Rodriguez still on track for Saturday return
NEW YORK -- Rays infielder Sean Rodriguez took infield practice on Friday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, testing his injured right hand. He will be reinstated off the disabled list as expected on Saturday. His capabilities at this point, though, will likely remain limited.
Rodriguez, hitting .215 with six homers and 32 RBIs in 106 games with Tampa Bay this season, broke his hand when he punched a locker while with Triple-A Durham in late August. He had been optioned down to work on some things, with plans to rejoin the club later in the season.
Rodriguez said after his workout Friday that he can do just about everything but swing a bat, and he hopes to be able to contribute in the field and as a baserunner. He even added that he can "slash" and bunt, just in case he does get an opportunity at the plate.
"I could swing a bat," Rodriguez added. "Just not with as much intensity as I might want."
Rodriguez said the team would likely want to see another clear X-ray before he is cleared to swing.
"It's frustrating, just to think that it was caused by something that was self-inflicted," Rodriguez said. "Basically, just immaturity and stupidity. I'm just trying to get past that to get back in time to help the team in any way I can."
The Astros have interviewed Rays bench coach Dave Martinez for Houston's managerial position, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reported on Friday.
Martinez has been with the Rays as a coach since 2008, after a playing career that lasted from 1986-2001 (though never with the Astros). Houston began interviewing managerial candidates this week after letting Brad Mills go last month after nearly three years as manager. Tony DeFrancesco has been serving on an interim basis.
With second baseman Ryan Roberts still nursing a bruised left shin and third baseman Evan Longoria needing a day as designated hitter, manager Joe Maddon brought out another shuffled lineup on Friday. He had Elliot Johnson at second, batting ninth, with Carlos Pena hitting eighth. He cited the success of Longoria, B.J. Upton and Jeff Keppinger (playing third) against Yankees starter CC Sabathia as reasons for batting them 3-4-5 in the lineup.
"Just reshuffle the deck shares a little bit, just to see if we can spur it along," Maddon said. "Just giving them a different look. Nothing really thought-provoking at all."
Exiting the series opener, Tampa Bay was 7-for-47 with runners in scoring position over its last seven games and had also scored just 24 runs in seven games (four of them losses) in the Bronx this season.